I took Valentine's Day as a vacation day, as I do every year, so that I had time to prepare our annual feast to St. Valentine. It seems odd that a third century man who was beheaded for converting Romans to Christianity would be associated with courtly love but such are the vagarities of religion and what has become Hallmark holidays.
We do not go out for dinner on Valentine's Day - we have no desire to be served mediocre over priced food in a crowded restaurant. Interestingly there were many articles about how Valentine's Day was the worst day of the year to go out to a restaurant. I guess we knew this instinctly and have cooked our own feast for years rather than brave the din of restaurant goers.
Generally I spend the day cooking but the menu we planned didn't require a good deal of pre-dinner prep. I spend my day doing errands, got a couple of things done in advance, wrapped Paul's treats, and napped.
It was a happy day. :-)
When Paul arrived home from work he was tired so he napped a bit as well.
After he had woken up (and recovered from his general post-nap crankiness) we set out our charcuterie and cheese.
Notice the heart-shaped salami I found in the salami case at the Cheese Boutique.How fun is that?
With this first course we sipped a new drink called an 'Infrared' which we both LOVED!
After nibbling for a bit (and sipping A LOT!) Paul tidied up and set the table for dinner.
When we were last in Rome I found some shaped pasta that I knew would be perfect for Valentine's Day. Made by Italy's famed pasta maker Gargnano, we decided to stuff them with spinach and ricotta, and to cook them with a simple tomato sauce.
Neither of us could eat the whole thing.
OK, let me correct that, we could have eaten it but we knew this was just the primi (as they say in Italy) and there was more feasting to come . ..
For the main course we made a recipe from a cookbook we received for Christmas from our friend Sandi: the Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes. In it she includes a dish her daughter enjoys on a regular basis at a restaurant in Florence - beef tenderloin with a balsamic sauce. With this we served a baked fennel gratin and potatoes with our friend Judy's Tuscan spice mixture.
We opened up a 2004 Brunello Di Montalcino to enjoy with our meal. 2004 is considered to be one of the best years for Brunellos and it was easy to see why - the wine was wonderfully perfumed and majestically refined with an excellent balance of fruit and refined tannins. It is a shame we only had the one bottle.
After all of this, it was time for dessert.
I had ordered a mini-vanilla heart-shaped cake with a raspberry mousse filling from our favourite bakery around the corner from our house.
A perfect finish to a wonderful meal!
Paul wasn't done with the sipping though - he brought up a bottle of vin santo - that sweet dessert wine made in Italy from dried grapes.
Thank goodness we were able to sleep in on Saturday!
Of course, then there were gifts to open . . .